Thursday, January 20, 2011

Clarinet Thing at the Rex

PhotobucketThis month's intimate Salon at the Rex featured Clarinet Thing, a jazz clarinet quartet. The program consisted mostly of original compositions by members of the quartet, who playfully took their inspiration from such unlikely sources as Balkan dance music, Buckminster Fuller & psychiatric disorders. They used several sizes of instruments, including the bassoon-like contra-alto clarinet. One of the musicians called it a "paper clip," accurately describing its silver color & the way it doubles back on itself. The quartet does not make a blended or uniform sound, & the players themselves admitted that they each have very different influences & backgrounds. They ended with a lively performance of 2300 Skidoo by Hergie Nichols. The piece has a hip, 1950's feel to it & reminded me of the jazziest parts of West Side Story.

The atmosphere was relaxed. The audience seemed pleased with each number, & there was humorous banter among the musicians. In the question & answer session afterward, people wanted to know about the difference between the clarinet, bassoon & saxophone. They were also curious about the backgrounds of each of the players, who pursue disparate musical interests outside of this quartet. When Sheldon Brown demonstrated an ornate Balkan melody, many in the audience found it similar to klezmer music.

§ Salons at the Hotel Rex
Clarinet Thing
Sheldon Brown, Beth Custer, Ben Goldberg, Harvey Wainapel

Wednesday, January 19
Hotel Rex

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